Five Years And A Seven Dollar Toaster

Five years ago we got married.

Five years ago, I thought couples that were celebrating there 5th anniversary were fairly ancient and had been married for a long time.

Just so you know…

Those five years were short. They went fast and I don’t feel like we’ve been married long at all.

And we definitely aren’t old. πŸ™‚Β 

For us, life together has been an incredible journey. There’s been ups and downs and in-betweens but its been good.

I must say though, that it has looked absolutely nothing like I pictured it.

If you had told me 5 years ago…

That we would do a DTS…

I would probably have told you, you’re crazy. If you had added that we would do that DTS with an 18 month old in tow, I would probably have told you that you’re more then crazy.

Yet that’s exactly what we did and I will always be amazed how God works. He has this way of throwing seemingly random happenings into a persons life that ends up leading us to our next phase in life. The funny part is, we end up doing things we never thought we would, because all along he was preparing us for this step but somehow we never even saw it happen.

If you had told me we would do foster care.

I would probably have told you that I don’t have what it takes for something that big.

Yet here we are.

God is good. I know that our journey has been good because we aim to keep God in the middle of it. More often then not we fail, make our own decisions and forget that God has an opinion on everything, but he is merciful, has shown us grace and the longer we walk with him the easier it gets to remember to include him in every decision.

No longer just my decision.

As we were setting up house there was so many little things to buy. As a saver, spending all this money went down a little hard for me.

One thing we didn’t have was a toaster.

Not really a necessity but something that would be really handy to have occasionally. We were at wal-mart anyway so why not check out the toasters. Checkers starts looking at the style and size of these toasters and all I can see is the price tags.

Seriously who spends 30 or 40 dollars on a toaster!Β 

I mean, all I want is a piece or two of toast and I don’t need a fancy piece of equipment for that, besides we rarely even eat toast.

Oh, and if you have a fancy $60 toaster thats ok, I won’t judge you. πŸ™‚ I am going to assume though that you have more money then you know what to do with. πŸ™‚ Or…

Maybe you don’t since you bought that toaster. πŸ™‚Β 

“How bout this one?” I asked. It was seven dollars something and I’m pretty sure t was the cheapest one they had.

Checkers looked at it a bit.

“I don’t know we might as well get something that’s gonna last.”

I disagreed, “This should last since we don’t eat all that much toast.”

“We want it to last more then a year, and if we get this other one we can make 4 pieces at once instead of just two.”

“I think it’ll last at least two years, and if we make two pieces then two more it’ll only take about two minutes longer then making them all at once.”

We discussed this toaster dilemma a bit more, then left Wal-mart with the $7 option.

Why am I bringing this up now?

Because this morning as I was making a breakfast sandwich for Checkers, and thinking back to 5 years ago when we got married and started a life together, I couldn’t help but smile as I popped two pieces of bread into that $7 toaster. πŸ™‚

And we have made quite a bit of toast in those 5 years.

What have I learned?

I have learned that love is a choice more then a feeling.

Fairy tales and romance novels or movies are unrealistic. ‘Happily ever after’ simply doesn’t exist.

You can have a good life together and you can be madly in love on your 80th wedding anniversary, but you aren’t going to get there just because one day you figured out that you can’t live without the person you love, so you laid aside your differences and ‘lived happily ever after.’

It just doesn’t happen that way.

It’s more of a ‘dying to self’ experience.

Love is a choice and it’s a choice that you need to make every single day.

You must choose love, when your partner has different views then your own, you must choose love, when your partner is selfish or demanding, you must choose love through any circumstance or situation that arrives at your doorstep.

You must choose love.

Because every time you choose anger or resentment you are opening a door for the enemy, and he doesn’t miss opportunities, he will make the most of them.

Communication is also extremely important, when you do feel anger or resentment be real with your partner, share your heart and work it out because by forgiving each other and finding that middle road that bridges your differences, you will close that door against the enemy and it will also draw you even closer to your partner.

Instead of instantly placing blame when I feel hurt or rejected by his actions or words, I’ve learned to evaluate myself. What is my part in this? How am I hurting him? What can I do differently to resolve this instead of thinking only he needs to change?

Honestly? More often then I would like to admit, a lot of the problem comes down to my own selfishness.

Prayer.

I believe this is the most important key to a good marriage.

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.

There is no such thing as over-praying.

So pray.

Pray for your partner, pray for your marriage, pray for yourself.

I am convinced that it doesn’t matter how bad we are at the whole marriage thing, if we pray according to God’s will, we will find joy and we will know how to love our partner unconditionally.

Because heartfelt prayer is powerful.

And while it may not always change a your circumstances, it will always change your heart.

Advertisements

When Your Kids Come In Threes

Foster Care.

Something that always caught my attention.

Something I never thought myself capable of doing.

Something that God kept bringing up till we finally got to the point where we said, ok Lord if you think we can do this we’ll give it a shot.

We started our training in July, and it’s the kind of thing where it kind of takes however long you want it to take to get approved, it was up to us how quickly we got all our info handed in. We set a goal of having everything finished by Oct. 1, but life happens and we got sidetracked and were about 2 weeks from Oct 1 with still about 3 or 4 weeks worth of things to accomplish. There was no rush so we figured it was just going to take a little longer then we had planned.

However…

On September 20, our social worker contacted us. I answered the phone expecting her to tell me she needs more info on some things.

She didn’t.

“I have something I want to run by you.” She said.

Ok…

There’s two kiddos ages 3 and 5 that need to be moved out of their current foster home, they have a baby brother who lives very close to you guys so the agency they are under is very interested in possibly having them move in with you.

WHAT?!

We weren’t even approved yet!

I didn’t say that to her because she was already telling me, that because we aren’t approved yet they wanted to fast track our approval and have us completely approved by Oct 1, and how does all that sound to you?

How does that sound to me? Um good. Yea. Yea, that sounds good.

We ran into a few dilemmas. We still needed to get our physicals and FBI clearances. The FBI clearances can take up to 4-6 weeks to get back and getting appointments at our family DR. can often take at least two wks.

It worked out tho. We got our physicals at a Quick Care and got our finger prints done that night yet. It only took about 6 stops and 4 hours before we found the right places and got everything done.

Here’s the amazing part.

Five days later we got our FBI clearances back. Which in case you’re wondering means that we officially never committed federal crimes. (At least not that they know of anyway.) πŸ™‚ Just kidding! We didn’t. Oh and these are the forms that they had told us can take from 4-6 weeks get.

Checkers and I both had the same thought, if God is working out the details this perfectly and quickly, these kids must be coming for sure.

Our social worker called again. “They want the 3 siblings to be together so it looks like baby brother would be moving in with you guys in couple months too, does that change anything for you?”

This was a huge eyes/heart pounding moment for me. THREE KIDS? I was already freaking out about 2 coming at once!

The baby wouldn’t be coming for awhile after the two older kids so it would all work out.

After a lot of last minute details, paperwork and what not they told us the kids will probably be placed in our home but they would like for us to meet the kids then we’ll go from there. (These kids were coming from another foster home, so they do it a little differently then if they are coming straight from their home.)

We met the kids. Their social worker was telling me all about the kids, then proceeded to tell me the plan…

“We would like to have them spend two or three weekends here then hopefully have them moved in by Thanksgiving, at that time we’d like to start weekend visits with their baby brother and have him moved in as well sometime in December.”

WHAT?!

So basically he was coming right away, not a couple months later.

Ok, yea we agreed to that.

About a week later our social worker called again.

“Well, it looks like the kids won’t be coming after all. The baby’s foster parents have been asking to have the two siblings placed with them as well rather then give up the baby but since they are older the agency didn’t want to place two more young children there. However the foster parents brought it up in court and they agreed to place all the kids there.”

Ok.

We were disappointed. We didn’t realize till we got that call just how much we had already prepared ourselves metally to have these kids move in, but at the same time…

We were a bit relieved because we weren’t 100% confident that we would know how to handle 5 kids! πŸ™‚

About two weeks later, we got another call. three kids, just coming into the foster system ages 9,7 and 5.

I called Checkers and told him: “Things have escalated. They still think we should take 3 kids but now they are much older!”

We agreed to each pray about it, we had 2 hours to decide and the kids would probably be coming that evening.

We were leaning towards saying no, these were older kids and honestly we don’t even know how to handle a 3 year old most days, how would we be able to deal with a 9 yr old?!

To our relief the social worker called back and said they had been placed in someone else’s home. (They usually contact more then one family, then go with the one that seems to be the best fit.)

Checkers and I were discussing this that evening and I asked him: “What do you think God is up to that he keeps sending all these ‘big’ cases our way?”

“I don’t know but it terrifies me.” He answered.

That was the perfect answer to what we were feeling. We started on this journey thinking we would get one child under the age of 5 and then maybe awhile later get another one. We agreed to take sibling groups of 3 or less, but we didn’t actually think that would happen, but here they are asking us to take sibling groups of 3. Twice.

The very next day ( just this last Thursday) we got another call. 3 kids ages 4, 3 and 2 months, and they wanted to place them here the very next day.

I called Checkers and informed him: “We are getting 3 kids at once, theres just no way out of it!)

He agreed. πŸ™‚ And we agreed to take the kids. (Again, they contacted more then one family and would choose the one that they thought to be the best match.)

So we didn’t know if they were coming or not.

Friday morning I got up and started cleaning, I did the main areas first because I was expecting this call at anytime and I had no idea what they were going to say, they might call and say they’re bring the kids in 30 minutes so I was going to be prepared.

Well they never called till 11:00 and that was only to let us know that the other agency requested our profile which means they were leaning towards choosing our home but still anything can happen.

We waited all day to hear more, finally just before the agency closed, our social worker called and to let us know they still hadn’t heard anything from the other agency.

Ok that pretty much meant we wouldn’t know more till Monday.

Today around 10:30 they called us to tell us the kids are being placed here, but they still didn’t have many details. Maybe they’ll be placed tonight, maybe not.

WOW can we just figure it once?!

Finally around 2:3o, our social worker called again.

“Well, now you know how crazy foster care can be,” she said, “The kids will be placed in your home, but not till Friday, since their current foster family wants some time to pack up their things.”

So right now that’s the plan. We are meeting the kids and their current foster family on Wednesday night, then they will move in on Friday.

But that is just the plan.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they call again and say: “Never mind, we found another home for the kids!” πŸ™‚

I don’t actually think thats going to happen, but untill these kids walk in the door with their bags and everyone leaves, except us and the kids, I don’t think I’m going to fully believe that it’s happening for real! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Quit Going To Church

No worries, I still go to church. πŸ™‚

I just really wanted you to click on this link and I was sure curiosity would get the best of you and you would just have to see how I can justify not going to church. πŸ™‚

I still go to church, but I quit going with my own agenda in mind.

What is church really?

I always looked at church as a connection to God, as a way to replenish my spiritual buckets to get me through another week. I looked at church as a way to learn more about God, and I thought it to be my duty as a christian.

I thought church was for me.

For me to learn something new, for me to worship corporately, and for me to find renewed strength, revelation, hope and joy.

I thought church was for me.

One of our DTS speakers put it a little differently.

We should go to church not for what we can get out of it for ourselves, but for what we can give to someone else.

I had honestly never even considered that, I had never even considered the fact that I had anything to give to anybody.

Which reminds me of a quote I heard once.

God meant for us to be rivers, not ponds.

A river is constantly receiving water from other sources, it then takes that water and passes it on, allowing it to fill another source, it doesn’t just store it up somewhere, it shares the bounty it has received.

A pond on the other hand receives but doesn’t give.

As christians, we should be rivers, constantly receiving, constantly being filled up by The Holy Spirit, but we should also be passing on the blessings and love that we received. We should be encouragers who pour into other people.

Don’t be a pond, because it doesn’t matter how much good water you collect, if it just sits there it will get stagnant and smelly. πŸ™‚

Did you know…

That you don’t need church?

I always thought it’s my duty as a christian to go to church.

It’s not.

Because if I’m making it about things I need to do, then I’m hanging out dangerously close to that religious line.

Rather what I do should stem from a desire to live intentionally for Christ, it should come from my heart, a deep inner desire to Β serve him, to honor him and to bring glory to his name in everything I do.

Even going to church should be done to serve him.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to church just because you don’t feel like it, because in my experience: there’s times in my christian walk when I’m doing things because I want to, because theres this fire in my heart, thats driving me forward.

Then theres those other times…

Those times when all I want to do is crawl in a hole and hide from the world, but I force myself to move forward and engage in ‘church things’ because I know it’s what I need, even if I don’t feel like doing it.

Still, it’s not about going to church.

It’s about fellowship, it’s about being connected to a group of believers.

Matthew 18:19-20 β€œAgain, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

In other words, going to church but not getting involved, not connecting with the people of the church, doesn’t count, that would be making it about going to church, it would be about putting in time for God, on Sunday, justΒ to make yourself feel good about your christian walk.

No, you don’t need church. You need fellowship with other christians.

Changing the church mindset.

I never liked church. Not as a child and not as an adult.

For one, there’s way too many people. ( I know, that would be what makes it a church but crowds just kinda drive me crazy.)

And two, church is where you get judged on your christianity. (This doesn’t really apply to all churches and yet more often then not it does. Think about it: church is the one place where we try to put on the best christian act we own, when in reality it should be the one place where we can be the most vulnerable about our struggles.)

Yea, we definitely got it a bit backwards.

In case you’re wondering: No, I still don’t really like church. I love the people though.

Here’s a bit of my story.

When we started going to Threshold I didn’t like it at all.Β 

Not even a little bit.

I’m pretty convinced it was the most unfriendly church I ever walked into. I think you could go there for a year straight and walk out at the end of the service without talking to a single person.

We went to a couple different churches but always we would end up back at Threshold.

Why?

We felt it was where God wanted us to go.

So we set some goals.

We joined a life group. We started going to pre-service prayer and we tried to talk to at least one new person every week.

It’s been a journey but we are so glad we stayed there, because once you get involved there you’ll find a goldmine. You’ll find passionate christians, who have a heart for prayer, worship and the people of Lancaster county. Threshold really is an awesome church, you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Other churches might look good on the surface but when you delve a little deeper, you’ll find they have many problems, so you see, each church has its upsides and downsides.

What God really brought to light for us when he took us to Threshold was this: ‘We’ve got to stop going to church for what we benefit from it, instead we need to take what God has given us and pass it on.’

Every time I complained to God about how hard it is to connect to these people. He had only one answer.

Be the change you want to see.

I believe each individual in every church has their own role to fill. God has put you there for a reason, you have something to give to this church that no one else has.

It might not be a huge thing, it might be as simple as a friendly greeting to the person sitting beside you, but if you’re just going to church for what you will get out of it, someone will miss out on what you have been called to give, and you will miss out on the blessing that comes from giving.

One more thing…

Before this blog gives you the opinion that I go to church every Sunday and make every visitor feel overly welcome, or that I spend my Sundays pouring into people…

Let me assure you: I don’t. Maybe that’s my longterm goal but I’m still so very far from it.

Just to be clear: It is ok to be a receiver at church, we can’t all give if no one is receiving and if we are going to give productively, we need to receive as well or we’ll run dry.

We just need to adjust our thinking from: We are going to church to take, to realizing that we also have something to give.

Be a river not a pond. πŸ™‚